Originally posted: Saturday, May 24, 2008 on Blogger

Manga Profile: Dream Saga

Here I am again with another manga profile; this time its on Dream Saga, a cute and short series by Tachikawa, Megumi. I’ve been doing only manga profiles so far, because in general, I prefer manga to anime. Hope you enjoy this profile as well. =)



As always, to the left, is the first volume of Dream Saga, it features the leading character, Yuuki. All volume covers follow this trend and have Yuuki in various outfits on the cover. Its not break-taking, but it’s still a nice cover.


Basic Information:

Title: Dream Saga / Mugen Densetsu Takamagahara

Author: Tachikawa Megumi

Volumes: 5

Publisher: Kodansha (in Nakayoshi)

NA Publisher: Tokyopop (defunct)


The Story


The story of Dream Saga is steeped in Japanese mythology and as you read along, you’ll probably learn a few new things if you are not acquainted with it already. The main myth that is involved in the tale of Dream Saga, is the myth of the Goddess Amaterasu, who is the world’s sun. In the myth, Amaterasu hides herself in a cave because her brother, the god of the sea, is becoming increasingly violent. The other gods decide to throw a party in front of the cave entrance in order to stir her interest and persuade her to come outside again.

Now, although Dream Saga is based on this myth, the actual story is not a retelling of it, but rather the myth serves as the framework for the story in Dream Saga. The characters themselves recognize this, and they too will, within the manga, read this myth as a means to try to solve the problem of the sun they face.

The actual story involves Yuuki and four other children who receive comma shaped stones dropped from the sky. Each of these stones is a different color and each one grants a different power. Yuuki, being the main character, receivers her stone first and is also the first character to make contact with Nakime, a priestess from Takamagahara. Takamagahara is the land of dreams, where each person travels to when they sleep. Under normal conditions, your self from Takamagahara and your self from Nakatsukuni (the real world) do not realize each others existences. But the magic stones that Yuuki and the other children receive allows them to recall memories from both lives and hence both their selves become aware of the other self.

But in Yuuki’s case, its slightly different, the first time she travels to Takamagahara with her stone, she awakens in the desert with no recollection of her Takamagahara self. At first, the reader is led to believe that this is quite normal, but as Yuuki begins meeting up with the other children, she realizes that only she is the same in both worlds. All the other children are either older or of a different gender and each of them has memories from both Takamagahara and Nakatsukuni.

The children then begin to unravel the mysteries that surround the disappearance of the sun in both worlds. They realize that pollution which happens in one world effects the other, and often times they must fix the problem in Takamagahara to save Nakatsukuni. When at last they have all gather and reclaimed the lost mirror, an artifact of great importance, they are finally able to ascend to the heavens and save the sun…..but by then, nothing is what it was when they began their jounery and the horrible truth of their quest is revealed.

The Story of Dream Sage is both original and enjoyable; it does have some expected plot twist, but there are also ones that are not so expected. I really enjoyed the mythology heavy plot and the sugary cute love scenes. Dream Saga also blends the genres of magical girl and fantasy really well; Yuuki is a magical girl, but one that travels to another world. I also liked the idea of a dream world that exists along side the real world.

Overall, Dream Sage had some interesting concepts that it embedded into its plot very well; and with only five volumes, the story felt both complete and satisfying.


The Art



Dream Saga’s art is a little rough around the edges, but its not horrible. It has a childish feel to it that fits the sugary and cutesy tale of Dream Saga well. There are a couple of issue I do have with the art style, however. Firstly, some of the teenagers and adults look just as young as the children themselves. Secondly, this is mostly due to tyokopop, the lines are sometimes very faded and its hard to see what is happening (but this problem only occurs once or twice throughout the whole series). And lastly, sometimes it is hard to see what is happening in the panels due to the rough art style of the mangaka. But I wish to repeat again, these are minor issues and I’ve actually grown to like the cutesy style of Tachikawa-san. I especially enjoy her eyes, they are far larger then the standard manga eyes and I find them quite lovely.

All in all, Dream Saga’s art fits the story’s feel and although it has some minor problems, on the whole it is quite enjoyable.


The Characters


Not being a long series, Dream Saga has a relatively small cast of characters, but that does not distract from the enjoyability of the manga. In fact, sometimes its better to have less characters, and in the case of Dream Saga this is quite true. Just as a warning and reminder, these character profiles contain spoilers!!!

1. Yuuki – the heroine, a young girl with three younger brothers. Yuuki is in grade five, which makes her ten or eleven years old. Being the only girl in her family and the oldest, it falls to her to keep her brothers in line, which she does quite well. She is the first to receive her magic stone and is also the only child Nakime tries to contact at first. When Yuuki goes to Takamagahara she stays the same. Her stone is red colored and it allows her to communicate and bond with nature. She is also called the Legendary Horizon Girl by the people in Takamagahara and seems to have a special destiny separate from the other children. Yuuki has a crush on her classmate Takaomi, but has not yet told him how she feels. Her true identity is revealed in the final volume of Dream Saga, it turns out that in Takamagahara, she is really an ancient tree that supports the heavens and by becoming one with her Takamagahara self, Yuuki is able to become the new sun.

2. Takaomi  the hero of the tale, Takaomi is a gentle and sweet boy in Yuuki’s class and also the object of her affections. Unlike his Nakatsukuni self, his Takamagara self is a lot more crude and older (15 actually), but nevertheless both Takaomis have a good heart and do what they know is right. Takaomi is the only one in the group of children that does not have a magic stone and as a result, his Nakatsukuni self has no idea about the quest to save the sun. At first, Takaomi doesn’t seem to mind, but as he starts falling for Yuuki, he begins to resent the fact that he is unable to recollect his Nakatsukuni memories and be a part of the group. When he is later told that he too can have a stone, Takaomi leaves the group in order to gain it. But the price he must pay to be a part of the group is heavy. The holder of the last stone, like Yuuki, has a special destiny, and that destiny is to become the god of destruction, Susanoo and eat the sun.

3. Binga  is a legendary bird that Yuuki saves from being eaten by Takaomi. Because Yuuki can understand her, she is able to convince Takaomi and his bandits to eat her cooking instead of Binga, and as a show of gratitude, Binga joins Yuuki on her quest. The majority of the time, Binga is a little bird, but when there is trouble, she is able to become her true self and is able to help Yuuki out.

4. Souta  a classmate of Yuuki’s, Souta is the top student in Yuuki’s class. He is also the holder of the blue stone. In Tamagahara, Souto is a priest who uses his magic stone to control water and see things upon its surface. When he first meets Yuuki in Tamagahara, he is very surprised, but decides to join her. In Nakatsukuni, he spends his extra time researching the Amaterasu myth.

5. Taizou  goes to the same school as Yuuki, but is not in her class. He is somewhat of a bully and in Takamagahara he is a bounty hunter. He meets Yuuki, Takaomi, and Souta before he has his magic stone and attacks the group in an effort to catch Takaomi for the bounty on his head. He later finds his magic stone and regains his memories from Nakatsukuni. In Nakatsukuni, he meets Yuuki when he is looking for the person who borrowed the book about Amaterasu. He then joins up with the group and develops a crush on Nakime.

6. Keima  also goes to Yuuki’s school, and is also in a different class then Yuuki. He is somewhat of an oddball in both worlds. In Nakatsukuni, he looks through trash to make things, and in Tamagahara he does basically the same thing, expect that there, he is a renown inventor. Like the others, he appears much older. The others find him in a city in Tamagahara and he offers them the airship that they need.

7. Nachi  is a classmate of Yuuki’s. He is a bit obnoxious and puts no effort into his school work because he believes that his future is already all set, as he will inherit his parents’ company. In Tamagahara, Nachi is a 16 year old girl that works for the royal family. In both worlds, Nachi has a crush on Takaomi and visibly shows it.

8. Kaya – the princess of Tamagahara, it was assumed that she would be Amaterasu’s successor, but this turned out to be not true. She is deeply in love with Takaomi, who is a childhood friend of her’s and tries her hardest to earn his love. Although her father, the king, is a corrupt and heartless individual, Kaya genuinely cares for the world and Takaomi. She journeys along with the group to the heavens for the final confrontation. In Nakatsukuni, she is Yuuki’s, Souta’s and Takaomi’s teacher and much older then her Tamagahara counter-part. Because she is not a magic stone holder, she also does not have any memories about her other self.

9. Nakime  Amaterasu’s assistant and a priestess in Tamagahara, she holds a high position in Tamagahara, but due to the necessary help she must give Amaterasu, she is unable to aid the children in much of their journey. She is able to, however, speak to them through a special mirror that Yuuki loose at the beginning of the tale, but which is reclaimed near the finale. She knowns far more then she lets on and in the final volume it is revealed that she began the Amaterasu project again in order to renew the world. She does seem to regret her involvement in it and the pain she caused Yuuki and Takaomi, as she saves Takaomi before he is gone forever from both worlds. She also seems to return Taizou’s feelings, but it is never revealed who her Nakatsukuni counter-part is.

These nine are almost the whole cast in Dream Saga, there are a few other characters, but they are not as important as these nine.


Themes

***I am using the term ‘theme’ in a very loose sense, meaning it can be anything from something the story focuses on, to an aspect of the story, or the actual meaning of the word in its literary sense. Nor am I going to go into too much detail, this blog entry is already really long ;) ***


1. Spiritual World

Although the idea of a spiritual world is not something new, the way it is presented in Dream Saga is. Instead of the spiritual world existing along side the real world, the spiritual world exists separate, yet it is still connected to the real world. In fact, each person has a real world and spiritual world counter-part and each time a person dreams, they awaken in the spiritual world, something quite unique to this theme. It is also important to point out that under normal circumstances, each aspect of a person; spiritual and material is unaware of the other aspect. In order worlds, the person in the real world has no idea or memory of the person in the spiritual world. The same is true for the person in the spiritual world, expect that the people of the spiritual world have the knowledge that they have counter-parts in the real world. And at a special time each year, the people of the spiritual world are able to see their real world counter-parts. It is a pretty interesting take on the dual material and spiritual world theme.

2. Pollution & the Environment

Pollution and the environment is a very important and central theme to Dream Saga. And although the pollution happens in Tamagahara, its lesson can be transfered to today’s situation. The basic gist of the story is that humans in Tamagahara have enraged nature because of the pollution they produce and their selfishness. Unlike the real world, in Tamagahara, nature is a very powerful force and for the injuries it suffers, it demands retribution. Ultimately, once nature becomes far too enraged, it seeks out the ultimate retribution and solution; erasure. Once nature believes there is no turning back, it turns against the whole world and seeks to destroy it, in order to rebuild it anew. Now while Dream Saga is a fantasy manga and nature will surely never attempt to eat the sun, there are many lessons to be learned here. One that pollution and human selfishness leads to destruction and two that nature should be respected and cared for if we want to preserve the world. A very nice and beautiful message, even with its sugary fluff, Dream Saga has an important message to tell its readers.


Conclusion


The expression, short and sweet, represents Dream Saga best. With only five volumes, Dream Saga is one of the shorter manga series available, and that makes it a lot less expensive. Its art may not be top notch, but it fits the manga’s story perfectly. And just as the art has a cutesy feel to it, so too is the story filled with cutesy characters and love scenes. Its a manga for younger girls, but it can still be enjoyed by the older crowd. With that said, Dream Saga is definitely not for everyone; you must enjoy the innocent puppy love and happy endings that make Dream Saga a tale aimed at the younger crowd. If you do not, then you will most likely find Dream Saga excruciatingly painful to read. As a side note, if you happen to have a younger sibling or daughter, she will probably enjoy dream saga, and you can, with confidence, hand it to her because Dream Saga is one of the cleanest manga I have read; its definitely of a PG rating.



Dream Saga is a tale of puppy love taking place behind a fantasy setting, and can be enjoyed by both young and old. With important themes and a strong willed heroine, its an ideal first manga for the little ones.

–SW

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